A Yellowknife father and son duo have pleaded guilty to reduced charges in connection to the death of a Yellowknife cab driver in 2018.
20-year old Elias Schiller pleaded guilty to manslaughter while his father James Schiller, 49, pleaded guilty to being an accessory to aggravated assault.
Both pleas were entered as the two accused appeared together in Supreme Court in Yellowknife Thursday.
Both were initially charged with second-degree murder after the death of 73-year-old City Cab driver Ahmed Mahamud Ali last November.
CKLB learned last week following a preliminary hearing for both men that the charges had been significantly reduced
Ali, an immigrant from Somalia, was found bloodied and unconscious in the back seat of his own taxi outside the emergency ward at Stanton Territorial Hospital.
He was later pronounced dead after being taken inside the hospital.
Crown prosecutor Jill Andrews explained to CKLB last week why the charges had been downgraded.
“The investigation has been ongoing since the original charges were laid. The evidence and the theory of the Crown’s case as it has developed supports charges of manslaughter and accessory,” Andrews said.
She told CKLB Thursday that the evidence and the Crown’s theory is also why the elder Schiller is not charged with accessory to manslaughter.
She said she would not characterize the guilty pleas as being part of a plea deal.
Andrews added that she has been in contact with the victim’s family throughout the proceedings.
Several of them were in court Thursday but they declined to speak to the media.
The case has been followed closely by Yellowknife’s Somalian community as well as cab drivers in the city who have appeared in court and have told CKLB that their jobs can be very dangerous at times.
About 80 drivers held a taxi procession through the downtown for their slain colleague last December.
More of them have also had panic buttons installed in their cabs, which emit a siren when pushed by the driver.
Shirley McGrath, general manager of City Cabs, says they have also initiated a system whereby drivers can connect with their dispatcher through their on-board tablets, alerting the dispatcher of a safety issue without the passenger’s knowledge.
A sentencing hearing for both Schillers is to begin on January 27, 2020.